Most Commonly Asked Questions

Both Locations are great! No difference in wildlife sightings. Tours usually end up going to the same areas. Main difference would be the drive time on Orcas. We like to have a location on each side of Orcas Island to make it more convenient for guests.

Some guests like exploring Orcas so they choose the farther location from them so they can see the farms, county-side and bays. Not a bad view from one side to the other!

The short answer both are great! We do not have an afternoon breeze or fog that is common in like other marine areas.

Whale watching in the afternoon is very similar the whale watching in the morning. It's really whatever works best for your group.

Afternoon departures tend to be less busy than morning departures. This is because ferry travel and dinner plans might effect guests availability.

While guests do "day trip" to Orcas Island, we recommend staying at least 1 night, unless you plan on catching a late ferry off the Island.

No one likes missing the boat. That includes missing the ferry off of Orcas Island. We recommend building in time to enjoy your activities without rushing.

While we usually recommend staying multiple days, some guests can't afford or don't have the time to do that.

If you are only on Orcas Island for one day we usually recommend our Deer Harbor Marina location.

As a friendly reminder, if you need to reschedule your tour, Deer Harbor Charters charges a $5 per person cancellation fee to cover the processing costs and we have a 48 hour cancellation policy for public tours. 120 hours (five days) cancellation policy for private charters.

If you need to cancel within 48 hours (five days for private charters), we will try to fill your seats to ensure you receive a full refund. If we can not fill your seats, no refund will be issued.

Customers will receive a full refund or credit in case of operator cancellation due to weather/unforeseen circumstances.

Deer Harbor Charters reserves the right to substitute boats, departure locations and departure times.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like any additional information. Email or 360-376-5989

Both of our locations are great for kids! Our boats are comfortable for all ages. We have inside seating as well as outside seating. We also have some fun coloring worksheets, games and toys for kids and parents that want a little more activity!

The prime season for whale watching around Orcas Island and the San Juan Island's archipelago is June - September.

Most of the migratory whale species (humpback, minke & gray whales) return to our sheltered waters to feed around April- May.

Orca whales frequent our waters and are a non-migratory species of dolphin (thats right, orca are not really whales!). Two genetically distinct and seemingly similar types (eco-types) of orca live, hunt and socialize around our region YEAR ROUND.

However, having a reliable "whale sightings" and calm weather during our offseason (November through March) can be hit and miss. 

 All companies engaged in "Whale Watching" in the region work a sightings collection network together. We communicate whale sightings, whale directions, group composition, unique whale identification and much more. This data is collected in real time and accessible only to Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) member companies. In addition, we collectively hold drivers meetings and implement best practice policies yearly. This is what makes whale watching in the Pacific Northwest the best in the world! 

We recommend bringing...

Warm Jacket (rain or windproof)
Long Pants
Close Toe Shoes
Snacks, Lunch & Water

We take photos on each tour and give them to you for free! Enjoy the trip, let us take the photos.

Please bring additional clothing items for our spring and fall tours - gloves, a warm hat and warm waterproof/rainproof jacket (these items are highly recommend). It is not uncommon for the temperature to drop 10 +/- degrees on the water.

We do have blankets and binoculars onboard for your use.

We may offer seasonal & spontaneous discounts online, in print or on social media.

Early Bird Special - On NOW!

Save $20 per reservation when you reserve your whale watching tour 3 days early with our early bird special. Use Code earlybird at checkout.

Only one promotion per reservation.

Visit us online for spontaneous savings and fun information!

Facebook (deerharborcharters) Instagram (orcaswhalewatch)

Info and Preparations for your adventure

You can book a trip online by clicking on the excursion type you'd like, using the "BOOK NOW" button in the menu bar, or you can give us a call at 360-376-5989. Talk to you soon!

Technical difficulties happen sometimes! Go ahead and give us a call at 360-376-5989 to confirm your booking was placed correctly.

If someone in your group has special needs, require assistance walking to the boat or has any type of restricted mobility, please arrive early and let your naturalist know at our marina office during check-in.

The naturalist will allow early boarding to make sure you or your group member is comfortable.

Public Whale & Wildlife Tours are generally 3-4 hours. Guests can feel free to bring snacks, lunch and non-alcoholic drinks onboard.  Each vessel has blankets, binoculars, a restroom and a highly educated marine naturalist onboard.

If you have mobility issues please give us a call before making a reservation. Temperatures while cruise close to the water are generally 10-15 degrees cooler then on land. Please dress in layers with close toed shoes and long pants.